Cleaning And Grinding Grain
Kamut and buckwheat flour.
I used 8 cups of buckwheat plus 4 cups of Kamut. Kamut grain is an ancient relative of wheat and holds a smaller amount of gluten, it is larger in size and has more protein compared to modern strains of wheat. Seventy percent of those sensitive to gluten can eat Kamut. If I eat too much during the week, I will start to get itchy skin, that’s my number one sensitivity sign.
Stored Grain even if it is organic is covered with dust, who knows what may have settled on the grain while it’s in storage. I wash and rinse my grain and dry it in the oven at low heat. Drying took several hours and was a pain in the neck. I thought, “Why not stick the grain in a pillowcase and stick it in the clothes dryer.” I tied knotted the pillowcase and tied twine around the neck of the knot as well. Giving enough room for the grain to move as it dries in the dryer. It took 45 minutes at high heat to dry 12 cups of grain instead of several hours in the oven. My husband cleaned out the clothes dryer’s lint catcher and found white powder. He asked what I had done and I had to laugh. The look on his face was classic! I guess if you dried too much grain you may have a fire hazard, however cleaning out the filter seems to work just fine.
Before we moved back to my home state of Oregon I lived in Chicago and had a desk job. I went to the gym an hour a day and walked at least an hour or two a day. I walked to work and the store rather than taking the bus or a taxi. I kept pretty fit, however even though we bought all our food fresh from Whole Foods Grocery, I made green smoothies I still suffered from fibromyalgia and my endurance was non-existent. I had back problems, suffering from asthma, and felt lethargic my endurance just wouldn’t improve, I used to be a long distance runner in my thirties. After I injured my back I couldn’t run and my endurance steadily declined. My feet were in constant pain, walking was a test of my stubbornness and I walked at least 2 miles a day. Moving from Chicago to Oregon exhausted me and the thought of grinding grain for an hour was inconceivable but I did it anyway. I guess being a long time meditator and endurance runner my discipline paid off. After 2 years of drinking well water, eating homegrown food, working in the garden and grinding grain a couple of hours a week all my symptoms including gallbladder and pancreas attacks are gone. I went into my pain as a meditation object and ground it up in my grain grinder and ate it! The detox was hellish because all my old illnesses came back and seem to triple my pain my first year working my hobby farm. My strong determination paid off, I am now pain-free. I would spend an hour a day in the gym when I lived in the city. Grinding grain for a couple of hours a week is no big deal. I guess it is how you look at things, the view is the most important when changing life style and regaining your health. If you are in poor health or you wish to improve your health try to remember a time when you were healthy or imagine what your life would be like if you are healthy. Also remember if you have suffered from chronic health issues you have a deeply imbedded habit of being sick. Even if you recover your health, the habit of illness will linger and you will have to deal with it through repeated healthy behavior. This really helped me stay on the path when I felt really sick and couldn’t work.
You need to sift your grain after the first grind, I grind the coarse grain again and sift. If you don’t sift the chaff out of your flour you will have a product that it is heavy, will not stretch but still really yummy. The product will taste nothing like what you are trying to make, coarse, brittle and no stretch. Sift your first grinding and re-grind and sift again. The left over second grinding is the coarse outer shell of the grain kernel, I cook this and feed it to my chickens.
Making Soba Noodles, 2-1/2 cups of buckwheat flour, 1-1/2 cups of flour, 2 cups of hot water. You can double this and freeze, dry or store left over in refrigerator. You can place noodles on a stick and let dry, the dry noodles while store for a year at least in an air tight container, I don’t like them as much as the fresh noodles. Whole grains take more water than refined bleached flours. If you are using refined flours, reduce water by 1/2 cup. In large mixing bowl blend flours, add salt if you wish, I like salt makes everything taste better. Make sure you have enough flour put aside (2 cups) if you pour too much water you can add extra flour and you will need some flour to dust board and noodles so dough does not stick. Pour in your water and mix dough until it starts forming a solid dough ball.
You can grab handfuls of dough and squeeze letting the dough fall out and keep grabbing dough and squashing until a nice firm dough ball forms. I place my large bowl on the floor and using the force of my shoulder weight through my hands push the dough into the bowl and fold, turn, push, and fold for 5-10 minutes. When the dough starts stretching without breaking immediately you will know your dough is finished. This knowing will take practice don’t give up, check out other people’s instructions and keep practicing until making dough becomes like riding a bike, it takes practice!
This is what the dough will look like when gluten has activated and the dough becomes elastic. If you do not use wheat in your dough you will not have a bendable dough. That’s okay, just know that the noodles will be tough and break easily especially when you roll your dough out. When I use just buckwheat I make a product looks like tortilla chips. Great for dipping but not elastic and bendable.
I cut my dough ball into four sections and roll into balls.
Rolling out this dough is easy, I had no trouble using a rolling-pin with handles, most folks use the thin rolling-pin, I haven’t bought one yet.
Place a little flour on clean counter top or wooden board, roll dough ball in flour and flatten out with palm of hand. Start rolling towards you from the middle of the dough and flip dough, dust with flour roll towards you, turn continue the same routine until your dough is as thin as you want your noodles.
I like to use my dicing knife to cut the dough in half, you don’t have to do one dough sheet at a time, you can keep them all together stacked on top of each other. Be sure and dust each sheet of dough so they will not stick to each other. Once dough has been cut in half, put the other half aside, place hand on dough and with tip of knife placed on cutting board cut into dough and pull towards you using a hand to keep dough sheets in place. Slice noodles as thin as you wish. I have made them fat in width and thin, just depends on your need.
Once dough has been cut you can separate each noodle and place individual noodles on a cookie sheet, dust with flour if you wish. I haven’t had a problem with sticking, the dough is very dry and smooth.
Finished noodles, notice they aren’t perfect, but they taste amazing! If I focus and don’t rush I can make really pretty perfect noodles but I was really hungry when I made this batch. Focus is very important!!
You will need 4 quarts of water per pound of noodles. I like to add a little salt to my water, boils quickly and I like salt, makes everything taste better.
Once water has reached a rolling boil add noodles and stir gently as to keep noodles from sticking to bottom of pan and to each other. I didn’t add oil to the water, just a bit of salt. Bring water back to a full boil. The water will turn milky white and start foaming, turn heat down until foaming stops. This usually takes about 3-5 minutes depending on how much noodle you added to the water. Let noodles simmer for another minute, have your strainer ready. Noodles should be firm and chewy when thoroughly cooked. Save the water for soups and sauces. I share the broth with my chickens, I cook their meal with soba yu. They love this!
Strain noodles add them back to pan and run cool water over the hot noodles. This step firms up your noodles and rinses away excess starch. You can serve noodles hot or cold with dipping sauce or add to what ever you wish. The noodles can be reheated without dissolving. After rinsing with cold water they are easy to work with.
Don’t give up if you can’t get the results you expected, research other cooks soba recipes and keep practicing. Hand-milled grain is very difficult to work with when expecting results you can find in the store or eating out. I made awful noodles my first 3 tries and spent hours grinding grain. I had to feed my chickens the results, they loved it but…Oh my gosh, so nasty to eat when the recipe goes bad! Once you perfect a method and have yummy results the feeling is so amazing. Remember a happy mind produces happy food, have fun!